Mehta's 'Midnight's Children' irks Kerala Congress

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 11 (IANS) No sooner than Deepa Mehta's "Midnight's Children" premiere show here got over Monday evening, a controversy has broken out that the film which shows former prime minister Indira Gandhi in poor light should not have been screened in a Congress-ruled state.

State Cinema Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar's estranged father and former Kerala minister R. Balakrishna Pillai shot the first salvo by saying that it should not have been screened because it shows former prime minister and Congress leader Indira Gandhi "in poor light".

"This should not have been allowed to be screened because Indira Gandhi is a passion for many and the minister should take up the responsibility for this mess," said Pillai, who heads the Kerala Congress (Pillai), an ally of the Congress-led United Democratic Front in Kerala.

Both father and son have been up in arms against each other for a year.

Kumar said the controversy is needless.

"A cinema should not be seen politically. Those who are airing opinions are those who have not seen the film. But I felt sad when at the end of the film the Indian map was shown... it was without Kashmir," he said.

The film's premiere show was screened Monday night as part of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK).

The film is an adaptation of Salman Rushdie's novel of the same name and features Satya Bhabha, Siddharth, Ronit Roy, Rahul Bose, Anupam Kher, Darsheel Safary, Soha Ali Khan and Shabana Azmi.

Shot mostly in Sri Lanka, the film revolves around the national emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi from June 1975 to March 1977.

This irked local Congress leaders and former minister and Congress leader Pandalam Sudhakran.

"The film shows our country in poor light and this is not acceptable," said Sudhakaran.

The director said she does not think that the film would be banned in the country.

She said it was decided not to have more than one screening of the film at the IFFK because it was slated for a country-wide release in 400 theatres.

For Mehta, IFFK has been a lucky charm for her previous films like "Fire" and "Water", which were shown in the previous editions of the IFFK here. She said: "I could not think of a better place to premiere 'Midnight's Children'."